Four corners expose and McHugh report

Four corners expose and McHugh report

Image source: Animals Australia

In 2015, Four Corners broadcast shocking footage of  live rabbits and possums being tortured and ripped to pieces in order to “live bait” greyhounds – a practice that was banned in 1967.

Following the broadcast and many reports of industry cruelty, the board of Greyhound Racing NSW was stood down. In addition, the Honourable Michael McHugh was appointed to lead a Special Commission of Inquiry into greyhound racing in NSW. The findings of this Inquiry raised serious questions about whether the industry should be allowed to continue.

The McHugh Report as it was known described the overwhelming evidence of “systemic animal cruelty”, including the mass killing of greyhounds, the widespread practice of live baiting, racing deaths and injuries, and mistreatment of the dogs.

The inquiry found that of the 97,783 greyhounds bred in NSW in the previous 12 years, evidence suggested that somewhere between 48,891 and 68,448 dogs were killed because they were considered “unsuitable or too slow for racing”. An internal Greyhounds Australasia document revealed that greyhound racing was responsible for the deaths of up to 17,000 healthy greyhounds in Australia each year. This included 7,000 puppies and young dogs who never even make it to the track.

“Examination of this issue will necessarily raise the question of whether a greyhound industry can be sustained without the mass slaughter of young animals.”
Stephen Rushton SC
Council assisting the Special Commission of Inquiry into greyhound racing in NSW

Political pressure and a short-lived ban

The evidence was so incriminating that Mike Baird, the NSW Premier at the time, announced a greyhound racing ban to take effect in NSW from  2017. However, within three months of this announcement, Premier Baird succumbed to political pressure and reversed the ban.

Official inquiries in Victoria and Queensland at around the same time also concluded that the greyhound racing industry in those states deserved another chance to reform.